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Big cities like New York and San Francisco are well-known for abounding fine dining options. But small towns across the country have their own claim to excellent restaurants and high-end cuisine. Many seemingly sleepy country spots are home to respected chefs and revered dining halls. We look at ten fine dining experiences in small towns that are surprising visitors and delighting locals.
Nestled in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley lies Bethlehem, and Bolete Restaurant. Bolete is the creation of a husband and wife duo that both have a life-long passion for good food. The couple has created the restaurant with the intent of slowing life down a bit and offering an experience where guests can really savor their food and enjoy the craftsmanship that goes into it. The menu changes often to reflect what is seasonally available, and everything, including stocks, sauces, and pastas, is made and prepared in-house. Beyond the excellent food, Bolete also offers artisan cocktails that have visitors and locals swooning.
Bolete, 1740 Seidersville Road, Bethlehem, PA, USA +1 610 868 6505
Sabor a Pasion
At first look, Sabor a Pasion seems to be just a charming bed and breakfast in the middle of Texas. But within this small-town gem is a restaurant that could stand alongside any big-city eatery. The resident chef is classically trained, and the menu is heavily influenced by Tuscan flavors and techniques and fresh, in-season produce. Ingredients are procured from local sources whenever possible to ensure freshness and utmost quality. The estate has its own vineyard and garden, and outdoor seating at the restaurant is sublime. To finish off a perfect meal guests recommend the fresh fruit pavlova: layers of smooth meringue, topped with fruit and powdered sugar.
Sabor a Pasion, 110 Anderson County Road 406, Palestine, TX, USA +1 903 729 9500
Glitretind at Stein Eriksen
Deep in the Rocky Mountains of Utah, Park City is a well-known town for world-class skiing. But this small town has a strong culinary scene, with the Glitretind at Stein Eriksen Lodgestanding out as an example of fine dining that could go head-to-head with restaurants in larger cities. The lodge does not cut any corners in ensuring a magical experience. Set in an alpine wonderland, Glitretind serves upscale American fare with local flavor and ingredient influences. Locals especially like the restaurant’s Sunday brunch, with dishes like pickled beets and heirloom carrot salad and poached salmon with watermelon, radish, and dill.
Glitretind, 7700 Stein Way, Park City, UT, USA +1 435 649 3700
Asheville, North Carolina, is making a name for itself in the country’s culinary scene, andCúrate is right in the center of the action. This restaurant brings the vibrant flavors of Spain and the tradition of the tapas bar in a way that has people clamoring for more. Cúrate is located in a historic building near the center of town, lending a charm and nostalgia to the restaurant. Not only do they serve unforgettable dishes like chorizo wrapped in potato chips and lamb skewers marinated in Moorish spices, but the service is unmatched. The staff is friendly and precise, ensuring the absolute best experience, every time.
Cúrate, 11 Biltmore Avenue, Asheville, NC, USA +1 828 239 2946
A short ferry ride west of Seattle will take you to Bainbridge Island and a feeling that you are worlds away from the bustle of a big city. A short walk from the ferry terminal isRestaurant Marché, a fine dining establishment that celebrates local ingredients prepared in an artful and considerate way. Favorites for dinner include the mussels and fries and foie gras with vanilla-poached pear. The cuisine has a definitive French influence, but the mid-century modern design keeps the restaurant comfortable and unstuffy. The dining room is airy and bright with an open kitchen concept in which guests can view the masterful chefs at work.
Blue Hill at Stone Barns
The city of Pocantico Hills lies just 30 miles north of New York City in the Hudson Valley. This quaint town is a stark contrast to the trendy, high-end restaurants of the Big Apple but lays claim to its own culinary treasure. The Blue Hill at Stone Barns doesn’t just offer fine meals; it offers a comprehensive fine dining experience. Jackets are preferred for men, and children are best left home with a sitter. The menu is never printed and changes daily with the inspiration of the chefs that create it, using ingredients from the surrounding fields and pastures. Blue Hill at Stone Barns is truly a farm-to-table restaurant with uncompromised quality and reverence for excellent food.
Blue Hill at Stone Barns, 630 Bedford Road, Tarrytown, NY, USA +1 914 366 9600
The Inn at Little Washington
The Inn at Little Washington is steeped in tradition and history dating back to the founding fathers. The inn is situated in a picturesque small town at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and seems to have changed little since the 18th century. Since opening in 1978, the inn’s restaurant has garnered multiple awards and accolades. The restaurant serves American cuisine with French influences and delivers inventive twists on classic dishes like huckleberry-marinated squab and Maine lobster salad with Hawaiian heart of palm. The Inn at Little Washington is an oasis of relaxation and luxury, just 75 miles outside of the nation’s capital.
California’s Sonoma County is a mecca for world-class wine and fine dining, and within it, the city of Healdsburg boasts a number of excellent restaurants. Madrona Manor is a Victorian estate built in 1881 and transformed to an inn 100 years later. Today, its renowned Michelin star-rated restaurant is considered one of the best in the San Francisco Bay area. Serving elegant French-American fare, the restaurant also boasts an expert sommelier that can pair your meal with a perfectly selected wine, likely from one of the many wineries in the area.
Madrona Manor, 1001 Westside Road, Healdsburg, CA, USA +1 800 258 4003
Frasca Food and Wine
Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder, Colorado, serves exquisite Italian fare in an unpretentious and warm setting. The name Frasca points to a charming tradition in Northern Italy of families and friends joining together to share a good meal and a bottle of wine. Don’t let the casual friendliness fool you; this restaurant is deserving of the accolades and designation of fine dining. The chefs and sommeliers work diligently to create a menu that offers beautiful fare, full of flavor and prepared to perfection. Meals at Fresca follow a traditional Italian form of antipasti (salad or a light tasting plate) followed by a prima pasta selection and secondi, a meat or seafood dish.
Frasca Food and Wine, 1738 Pearl Street, Boulder, CO, USA +1 303 442 6966
The setting for Cafe Kandahar and the Kandahar Lodge couldn’t be more magnificent. The lodge is at the base of a mountain ski resort, just a short distance from Glacier National Park in Montana. For nearly 30 years, this restaurant has been bringing fine dining to this resort town, and locals love Whitefish’s best-kept secret. The menu has been called both eclectic and creative for its liberal use of fresh local ingredients and artistic combinations. Main course options include dishes like veal chop with lavender, pink peppercorns, cognac, and brie and caribou tenderloin with huckleberries, ice wine, and pancetta. Cafe Kandahar uses locally-sourced, organic ingredients whenever possible.
Cafe Kandahar, 3824 Big Mountain Road, Whitefish, MT, USA +1 406 862 6247
By H.C. Hamblin
Heather Hamblin is a freelance writer and student at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. When she’s not studying, you can find Heather cooking, reading, running, or doing yoga. She is passionate about her native state, Utah, and often takes advantage of its natural beauties by snowboarding, hiking, and camping. Follow her on Instagram.